Hundreds of Lebanese people rioted on the streets of Tripoli, northern Lebanon on Saturday, January 4 protesting over the torching of a historic library owned by a Greek Orthodox priest. The protestors held up banners that read “Tripoli, peaceful town” and “This is contrary to the values of the Prophet,” referring to the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
The library that belonged to Father Ibrahim Surouj was burned on Friday night. It is estimated that the fire destroyed the two-thirds of the 80,000 books and manuscripts the library stored.
A security official reported that the attack came a day after “a pamphlet was discovered inside one of the books at the library that was insulting to Islam and the prophet Mohammad.” However, he said that it was proved that the priest had nothing to do with that pamphlet.
On Saturday, the Greek Orthodox priest stated on Lebanese media, that he has forgiven the attackers.
The library was located in the historic centre of Tripoli, which is Lebanon‘s second largest city. Tripoli is often the scene of frequent fights between Sunnis and members of the Alawite community, to which Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad belongs.
Incidents of violence against the Christian population of the city have been extremely rare during the last years, but the authorities estimate that this attack is related to the war in nearby Syria.